When Collaboration And Marketing Don’t Mix

In a recent blog entry, we touted collaboration as the key to a better world. We based it on the research of one John Velez, Assistant Professor at the College of Media & Communication, who discovered that co-op gaming improves social behavior. But while collaboration betters the world in general, it’s not necessarily the recipe for better marketing.

Earlier today I came across this entertaining YouTube video about advertising committees and how they do more harm than good. Instead of building around an original idea, the meetings that take place rip the concept apart and generate terrible ad campaigns.

The clip inspired me to seek more opinions on the matter. Surely there are some committees that manage to optimize and promote an original idea without diluting it, right? As it turns out, not really.

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Going into meetings without any hard data

James Carson, Director of Content at Made From Media, enforces the idea that instead of guessing what people want, the advertising committee should really look at what their prospective customers are actually doing online. Sure it might not be as easy as it is for Google and Facebook – who are sitting on unimaginably-vast massive amounts of data – but it’s still doable with simple web analytics.

According to Carson, if meetinngs must take place, marketers should see if their campaign is on par with search demand and the social channels that their customers are using. Another thing to look at is what other brands caught their attention. Which brings me to this next take on why committees are like demolition experts in the marketing world.

Don’t let big ideas shrink back into oblivion

Marketing today is significantly more data-driven than ever before. Because ad consumption is now mostly mobile and social, “marketers, rather than being a relatively monolithic group of professionals, have metastasized into a hodgepodge of specialists including designers, mathematicians and technologists,” according to Greg Satell, former Co-CEO of Urkanian publisher KP Media.

These are exactly the types shown in that YouTube video I mentioned earlier. Each with his or her own ideas and preferences, frustrations and rivalries, personal gains and egos. When these people get together and brainstorm, prudence and consensus win out over any big idea. Satell advises to stop waging conference room battles and employ simulations (again) using the data at hand.

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It’s not the team, it’s the manager

Going by the paragraphs above, you’d be inclined to believe that the best solution is to cut down on the opinion factor – i.e. use fewer marketing people. But that’s not the message these people are trying to convey.

Metric-driven entrepreneur Tony Lael opines that a bad-running advertising department is usually a management problem. To poke your head out in today’s crowded marketplace, the manager needs to use / hire / retain those who are good at understanding the Internet. It’s all about the web these days, from interpreting the data to publicizing.

The team needs to be savvy enough to know how to deliver the content long before creating it. They don’t all have to be clones of the same person. One team member will be good at writing copy, while another may be a drawing expert. Some teams will bless their campaigns with music created in-house. But that doesn’t mean that all members need to be musicians. However, they do need to be on par when it comes to understanding the market they’re taking on. If they know the mechanisms, they’ll be the first to put distribution ideas on the table. This is what ensures that any message, visual or audible, will actually get a chance to reach its audience.

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